Well another year is coming to an end, a year of hard work, scary decisions, exciting surprises and countless g-r-o-w-t-h opportunities (in more ways than one!) which makes it a great time to take stock of our businesses, see what worked (accomplishments!) and what didn't (lessons learned!), and map out a marketing plan for 2009 (let's dust off those business resolutions & wishlists!).
This year we saw how social media evolved from being a cool site for kids to hang out at, to a major marketing tool for corporations to engage with their customers. Are you making full use of this new trend? Nowadays a big chunk of marketing plans should be dedicated to social media, so I've put together a list of questions to help you get started on that:
Online Social Networks
Are you active in at least one online social network (signing up alone doesn't count!)? Selling is all about repetition - the more you connect with your customers -- in a helpful, friendly way -- the more they'll think of you when they're ready to buy the type of products you offer or refer you to a friend. Online social networks are perfect for this. These are some ways you could be using your networks:
- Facebook - update your wall & your status with comments, events and links of interest to your target market
- LinkedIn - showcase your talent in the "Answers" section, download your virtual resume, get testimonials
- Twitter - let others in your industry know when you attend conferences or networking events; comment on articles or breaking news
- A Small World - if you're targeting the luxury market
- MiGente - if you're targeting the Hispanic market
Strategy: Schedule 15 minutes a day to participate in one or two sites of your choice.
Blogs are a great way to keep your community updated on your business/industry, plus they're great for search engine optimization. Are you regularly updating your blog? How long has it been since you changed the widgets on your sidebar? Have you explored the different affiliate sales programs so you can sell complimentary products and receive commissions? Do you know what the best sources of ad revenue are for you, whether it's joining an ad network or striking deals directly with advertisers?
Strategy: Enter at least 1-3 posts a week. Designate a special time or day to do this and stick to your schedule. Freshen up your blog's sidebar once a month by adding a new poll, or widget or product announcement. Track your site's analytics monthly (or more often if you have a special campaign going on) to see if there are ways to increase traffic/ad revenue.
Forget the phone book. The new online yellow pages offer you lots of space to add company info (including video), feature special promotions, offer discount coupons, and allow customers to engage with you by writing reviews and posting pictures. Users can also send a link with your information to a mobile phone, and this is important because mobile is the next new internet frontier. Are you on these local online directories?
Citysearch (basic package is $149/mo)
Yahoo local ($299/yr)
Google local, maps
Strategy: Get on as many of them as you can, especially the free ones! Also check if there's any specifically targeting your industry, like if you're a restaurant there's MenuPages.com, etc.
Collectively these actions will help you build your online reputation the way you want to, and you won't have to wait around for the press to find you and write about you, when and if. The more you participate in social media, the more you'll get out of it, it's that simple. If you need help creating and/or executing a customized social media marketing plan for the new year, please contact me.
I'd like to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season, and here's to hoping 2009 bring lots of good things to all of us.
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